Under Alabama’s harmful immigration law, applicants for professional licenses have to prove that they are either a citizen or living in the U.S. legally. In order to verify a person’s status, non-U.S. residents have to be cleared through the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. State officials have asked the federal government to let the state use SAVE more widely, but federal officials have not responded and only a few of the professional licensing boards are even close to being able to use the system.
As a result, nurses and other professionals who must be licensed have to prove that they are legal residents are stuck in limbo:
Nursing board director Genell Lee said she applied for SAVE approval in October 2011, and got a letter earlier this month saying the board had been approved to use the system.
She said there’s still some paperwork to be done before the state can use the system. While she waits, Lee said, she’s been holding on to foreign nurses’ license applications.
“I’ve got a couple of applications from nurses who aren’t citizens,” she said. “I’m not permitted by law to determine whether they’re legal, so I’m waiting for SAVE.”
She said those nurses are working in other states now.
“But they want to work here,” she said.
In Georgia, applicants for professional licenses are trapped in a paperwork nightmare as well. The state’s immigration law has a similar provision to Alabama’s anti-immigrant measure that requires that anyone in Georgia who is applying for or renewing a professional license to prove they are in the U.S. legally. As a result, applications are delayed for weeks or months instead of days.